Saturday, March 28, 2015

Do I Need a Heart Rate Monitor for Fitness?

Heart rate monitors come in all shapes and sizes and have now become a standard piece of kit for many fitness fiends. When I started out running the only kit I had was a pair of trainers and a decent sports bra - I would hit the road without even clocking my mileage. But little by little I have started to see the benefits of adding a bit of technology to a workout.

This weeks training

The first addition was my iPhone, which I would shove in the back pocket of my running gear, and an app that recorded my distance. I then added an armband and good running headphones - oh the joy of reaching the crest of a hill with your favourite track blaring in your ears!

I then began measuring not just distance but speed too - watching (or hearing) not just your miles increase but your rate too is an amazing motivational tool. So I guess it was only a matter of time before I added BPM to my training.

Why use a heart rate monitor?

Heart rate monitors are a great way of helping you to keep a consistent pace and exertion rate - no slacking and no overdoing it!

You can set your monitor so that you aim to stay within the maximum and minimum Beats Per Minute (BPM) zones for your target - whether that is fat burning, fitness or simply safety. 

Using a heart rate monitor is also a great way of tracking your fitness - the first mile you run will give you a far higher heart rate reading than the mile you run after training consistently for a couple of months. Watching that progress is a great motivation to keep going. 

How to use a heart rate monitor

First work out your maximum heart rate. The easiest way to do this is MHR = 205 - (.5 x your age). So mine is 184. 

According to Runners World these are the levels you want to stay between in relation to your chosen run:

Easy run and long run 65-75%

Tempo run 87-92%

Interval repeats 95-100%

Race Distance

5-K 95-97%

10-K 92-94%

Half-marathon 85-88%

Marathon 80-85%

How Beets Blu Heart Rate monitor measures up.

Beets Blu sent me my very first heart rate monitor to try out and I've learned a lot in the process of testing it. 

The monitor is extremely comfortable - so much so that you really would forget you are wearing it. It fits under your chest \ sports bra and clips at the front. I'm not quite ready to show the world my mum tum so here's the back of it so you get the idea. 

The Beets Blu has it's own app which is basic but works well, or you can pair it with a number of other apps. I switched from NikeRunning to RunKeeper for this purpose - which allows you to track lots of other activities not just running. My only problem with the app so far is that the calorie count doesn't measure up - a 1 hour, 10k run burning only 58 calories?? I hope not!

So far I've used the Beets Blu for running and cycling, but unfortunately not swimming as you can't get it wet. I found it most useful with running as you can hear how you are doing as you go. Think you are working hard going up that hill? You can try harder says the monitor as it dips to 160BPM.

Beets Blu is easy to use, comfortable and accurate. You can buy now on Amazon for £29.95

Disclosure: Beets Blu sent me the heart rate monitor and a key finder for the purposes of this review. All words and images are my own and I retain full editorial control.
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